Everything listed under: politics

  • Mid Primary in the Strangest of Cycles

    Hillary was the shoe-in. Then progressives begged Senator Elizabeth Warren to run. No luck.

    But! Instead we got Sen. Bernie Sanders who immediately inspired the progressive wing. He is giving Hillary some tough competition.

    Meanwhile, in the wacky party we had nearly 20 candidates and the mega rich huckster, Donald Trump, has been in a commanding lead since the beginning. He appears to be headed to a lock on the nomination. Ugh. What shame.

     

  • Political Minority

    It is hard being a political minority. You never feel your ideas or opinions are being represented in what we call a representative democracy. So, you feel compelled to be an activist, ever pushing your opinions in hopes of moving the needle.

    Gay rights and protections, equal rights in general, net neutrality, global warming, income gap, etc, etc all seem to be dead or moving in the wrong direction in Oklahoma. Our national leaders follow the path provided by wacko fringe groups or large corporate interests.

    Diversity in Congress that reflects the diversity back home is what our founders had in mind. They envisioned small-ish House districts to achieve that, but failed to see that allowing local legislatures to create those districts, especially coupled with modern big-data capabilities, results in gerrymandered districts that fit a political view.

     Even mainstream Republicans are regretting some of the overreach in redistricting that has caused countless primary losses for incumbents.

    The worst result is the ghetto created for political minorities that makes them irrelevant. That leads to a great deal of frustration and resentment. Political resentment coupled with economic resentment is a recipe for disaster.

  • Gerrymandering

    I learned from my new book (Anything for a Vote) that gerrymandering goes back to before 1812. Elbridge Gerry (who was governor of Massachusetts and then vice president 1813-1817) had been particularly zealous in redistricting in Massachusetts in favor of Republicans. His practice came to be named after him.

     

  • Winning Elections

    During my short experimentation in political party participation I learned that parties are run by activists. They are the lifeblood of day to day operations. Most loyal Democrats and I suspect most loyal Republicans are mainstream in thought and not all that interested in pushing their beliefs off on others. They don't attend monthly party meetings, party rallies or political conventions.

    If they get involved in their local party they find out the activists can be demanding and overbearing and sometimes resentful. They often measure a supporter's value by how many hours they spend campaigning.

    The system works because the activists keep public awareness up and generally define candidates that run under the party flag, and if all of that work properly informs the rest of the party, the rank and file vote favorably to the party. Those registered party members may not do the canvassing or speech making, but that occasional act of voting is the most important thing any party member can do.

    What it seems to me has happened to the Republican Party over the past decade or so is that activists found the party in control of many state legislatures after the past two census cycles. They excitedly used their influence to convince office holders to push through gerrymandered districts that created more safe (non-competitive) districts. This led to increased influence by the more radical elements of the party. Those with extreme views are highly susceptible to demagoguery. The demagoguery of radio and TV personalities and power-hungry politicians pushed the fringe to challenge the more reasonable and moderate candidates.

    I imagine a good number of Republicans now regret creating those districts where even good Republicans can no longer win elections.

    It all begins when activists lose perspective and respect for all those loyal voters who will never knock on a door or shout at a rally and who could care less about the petty fights to attend the state or national conventions. It begins when they stop trusting that voting is enough and they start looking for ways to secure victories without winning the hearts and minds of the electorate.

  • Bipartisanship

    It is popular to long for and promise bipartisanship, but harder to carry it out. One should be careful promising anything unilaterally that requires the cooperation of others.

    Already columnists and online bloggers are equating bipartisanship, promised by President Obama, as compromising on principles. Republicans are doing their best to shape the economic stimulus bill in the image they have in mind and holding up getting anything passed.

    The problem faced by Democrats is one of deciding how much to compromise to move the bill forward and how far is too far.

    I think the first step of bipartisanship was reached simply by consulting Republican leadership, hearing the other point of view and responding. Bipartisanship doesn't necessarily mean compromise so much as listening and taking the opposition view into account.

    This sounds like little more than show, and it can be, so each person must decide when bipartisanship has been achieved. Therefore we are back to being a divided country. But divisions are good so long as both sides talk openly and give each other room to defend all points of view.